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Piazza del Popolo

The Piazza del Popolo is one of Rome's most beautiful squares, with an important and long-standing history.

TravelCurious Tip

Stop here for a rest after shopping on the adjoining Via del Corso.

Popular poplars

The Piazza del Popolo is one of Rome’s most ancient squares. Its name translates as the Peoples’ Square, but the original derivation comes from the poplar trees that once covered the area. While a bit out of the way of the city centre, it is conveniently near to Galleria Borghese and the Villa Borghese Gardens, making for a wonderful day out.

The famous Porta del Popolo, a decorative gated archway at the northern end of the Piazza, is an ancient Roman gate which used to be known as the Porta Flaminia. The Porta Flaminia was the most northern gateway in the ancient Roman city and led on to the most important route to northern Italy, the Via Flaminia. It was the first view travellers would have had of Rome, before the invention of railways.

Old masters

The Porta del Popolo is set amidst the old Aurelian Walls, which were built in the third century AD and which enclosed the Seven Hills of Rome. Tucked away in the northern corner, just inside the Porta del Popolo, is the impressive Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo, an Augustinian church built in 1099 which houses an astounding array of masterpieces by some of Rome’s most notable artists. Raphael, Bernini and Caravaggio are just some of the big names who have lent their talent to the interior decoration; a Museum of Leonardo Da Vinci is also located beside the church.

The modern Piazza was designed by Giuseppe Valadier in the early 1800s. It is a wide open square with two ornate fountains on either side which are flanked in a semicircle by a line of sphinxes, ending in two statues of gods or goddesses. This semicircular frame replaced the earlier trapezoidal shape and gave the space a more cohesive feel with a central focus. In the middle of the Piazza is the colossal ancient Egyptian obelisk of Seti I or the Flaminio Obelisk, adorned with four lion fountains: the obelisk was removed from Heliopolis to Rome in 10 BC after the Romans conquered Egypt, and is one of the oldest Egyptian monuments in the city.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Rome
Spanish Steps
Once you climb Europe’s longest outdoor stairs, enjoy a beautiful vista of Rome with St Peter's Basilica in the distance.
Castel Sant'Angelo
The former tomb of the emperor Hadrian is now an imposing fortress full of Papal history.
Villa Borghese Gardens
A vast and lovely scenic public park, adjoining the Borghese gallery.
The Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo
One of Rome's most interesting churches, displaying work by its most famous artists.
Mausoleum of Augustus
Largest circular tomb in the world built by Emperor Augustus in 28 BC
Montecitori Palace
Montecitori Palace or Palazzo Montecitorio is the seat of the Chamber of Deputies

Related Tours

The Heart of Rome Private tour: Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps
Enjoy a private walking tour in the Heart of Rome, where your private guide will introduce you to the city’s Ancient Roman history and baroque architecture while showing you the Eternal City's major landmarks. On your private walking tour, you will: 

  • Enjoy the personalised attention of a private tour guide
  • See the major highlights in Rome city centre in just 3 hours
  • Stop for a delicious Gelato on us!
  • See Piazza del Popolo, Piazza Navona, Campo dei Fiori and Ponte Sisto!
  • Step inside the over 2000 years old Pantheon – one of the best-preserved Ancient Roman buildings in existence.
  • Make a wish at the stunning Trevi Fountain and learn about the various myths behind the coins in the fountain. 
  • Climb the 135 steps of the magnificent Spanish Steps (if you wish) that lead to the beautiful Trinita Dei Monti Church.
  • Get orientated in the city, and get tips from your guide on where to eat and drink
  • Please note: This tour can run day or night. The night tour is very romantic but could also be ghostly! Either way, simply book an evening departure and let your guide know on the day of the tour the type of stories you wish to hear.

Sure, you have heard the phrase ‘Rome was not built in a day, but to truly understand that, one must walk the city with an expert to show you the layers of ancient civilization and ruins piled into the now-modern city. Often called the “Eternal City”, Rome is undoubtedly one of the most historically and culturally rich cities in the world. In the heart of Rome, you’ll come across the Pantheon and the Piazza Navona – two landmarks that date back to the Roman Empire; in addition, you’ll have the opportunity to see amazing architecture like the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps from the Rococo (late-Baroque) period. 

This three-hour walking tour is designed to give you the perfect overview of the city, as it includes some of the most beautiful attractions in the historic centre. This tour of the heart of Rome– more than any other, mixes the ancient with the late Baroque in a way that only Rome could. It is a great introduction to the magic in Rome. 

Please note that the Pantheon and other religious sites might be closed during the evening tours. In this case, your guide will provide you with information from the outside.
The Heart Of Rome: Family Friendly Private Tour
Enjoy a beautiful city stroll through the historic centre of Rome, where your private guide will introduce you and your kids to the beautiful Eternal City with plenty of stories to both educate and entertain. On your private tour you will: 

  • Enjoy the personal attention of a private tour guide who will keep the whole family engaged, interested, and entertained. 
  • Starting at the beautiful Piazza del Popolo, see the major highlights of Rome’s city centre in just 3 hours.
  • Stop for a delicious local Gelato on us!
  • Pose like Audrey Hepburn on the magnificent Spanish Steps. 
  • Throw a coin and make a wish at the stunning Trevi Fountain.
  • Step inside the mighty Pantheon – the 2000-year-old temple to all the gods. Peer into the heavens through its miraculous oculus!
  • Learn about the bathing and toilet habits of the Ancient Romans.
  • Hear how Rome was built layer upon layer – just like a giant lasagna.
  • See the beautiful baroque piazzas and learn about the secret insults between the rival artists, Bernini and Borromini, hidden in the statues and architecture. 
  • Guess which fountain is which at Piazza Navona – your guide will give you clues!
  • Walk to Largo Argentina and see the place where Julius Caesar was stabbed to death by his friends. 
  • Enjoy the sprightly atmosphere of Campo Dei Fiori, before learning about the grim torture and burning at the stake endured by the man whose statue stands in the middle of the square, Giordano Bruno.
  • Walk across the ancient Ponte Sisto – enjoy lovely views along the Tiber River, and the buskers on the bridge, and learn some of the murky secrets of the not-so-raging river! 
  • End your tour at the buzzing Piazza Trilussa in the heart of Trastevere – and close to lots of great pizzerias, gelaterias, cafes and bars. 

You may have heard the phrase ‘Rome was not built in a day, and to truly understand that, strolling through the historic centre with an expert guide – really helps to bring this ancient city to life. Let your guide help your kids understand the full breadth of history, with stories from the ancient world. At the Pantheon, learn how the Romans worshipped, took a bath and went to the toilet! At the eerie ruins of the theatres at Largo Argentina hear about the brutal assassination of Julius Caesar, on the very spot on which it happened. (It is now the Roman cat sanctuary – how are the mighty fallen!) At Piazza Navona, see how this beautiful Baroque space was built on top of an ancient stadium for horse racing. 'The lasagna effect'. See the marker that shows just how high the seemingly harmless Tiber river can flood. 

Take a break at the Trevi Fountain to throw in your coins and make a wish – then let your guide breathe life into the characters sculpted on the fountains, mighty Neptune, Lady Cornucopia – and see if you can spot a fake window!  There are so many secrets and stories behind every monument, piazza, church, and stone. Like naughty jokes hidden in the sculptures by Bernini at Piazza Navona – and his elephant next to the Pantheon. 

This three-hour walking tour is designed to give you and the family the perfect overview of the city. Combined with delicious gelato, it is a great introduction to the magic in Rome. 

Please note that the Pantheon and other religious sites might be closed in the evening tours. In this case, your guide will provide you with information from the outside.
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